May 9, 2018 / 12:36 PM / 8 months ago

New Knicks coach Fizdale stresses position flexibility

David Fizdale is taking a flexible approach to his new job as the New York Knicks’ head coach.

File photo: Apr 25, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale gestures during the second half in game five of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The former Memphis Grizzlies head coach was introduced to the New York media on Tuesday.

Fizdale emphasized that he will have an open mind regarding the role of the team’s three point guards and of the franchise player, forward/center Kristaps Porzingis.

Asked where Porzingis would play, Fizdale said, “Why limit it? Why put a ceiling on it? Right? I just see so many different ways to use him. Obviously if you play him at some 5, it’s like that super lineup you always seeing from different teams, I don’t even know how you match up with him from that perspective. But he can play 4. I mean, if you have another space, speed guy at the 4, he might even be able to play just positionless.”

Regarding Frank Ntilikina, 19; Emmanuel Mudiay, 22; and Trey Burke, 25; Fizdale stressed that he views them as guards, not merely point guards.

“Throw them out, put them out there together,” the coach said. “I’m about speed, skill, aggression, attacking, play-making. And all these guards have that ability. I just see a lot of versatility there. I see a lot of combinations we can throw on the floor together. ...

“I want to get up and down the court. I want to share the basketball. I want to attack the paint. But none of that will start without us being a great defensive team. You know, we’re going to be a team that really plays a pressure, physical style of basketball. Get a lot of deflections, try to get a lot of steals, get into the open court, earn the right to go play a more free-flowing, attacking style of offense.”

That plan likely won’t include Porzingis anytime soon, however. The 22-year-old Latvian sustained a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament and February, and the timetable for his return is unknown.

Knicks Hall of Famer Walt Frazier, part of the team’s broadcast crew, said Monday to SNYtv, “I don’t see him playing next season. I think they might sit him out. ... Unless the Knicks are in the playoff hunt, I don’t see them perhaps bringing him back next year.”

Fizdale plans to visit Porzingis in Latvia soon.

“The plane is warming up,” the new coach joked.

Fizdale added about Porzingis, “He’s the future of the NBA. You look at the teams that still are playing right now. They all have guys that are super-long, super-athletic, super-skilled, super-tough-minded, incredible workers. Obviously, I don’t know him personally yet, but he fits all the qualities of a megastar who can propel a franchise forward.”

Fizdale, a former Miami Heat assistant coach, went 50-51 over 1 1/2 seasons as the Grizzlies’ head coach. He was fired in November after an apparent dispute with star center Marc Gasol.

“I really take ownership of that where we didn’t necessarily click on things,” Fizdale said. “It’s my responsibility as a coach to get players to buy in, to get them to collaborate and come together. It’s just, for whatever reason, we bumped heads.”

—Field Level Media

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